Staffing Solutions

The Story of the Gift that Wasn’t

Who of us has not seen or heard the ads for Publisher’s Clearing House (PCH)? Where the firm’s “prize patrol” appears at the front door with balloons, champagne and an oversized check for thousands of dollars?

Haven’t you wondered why (if you have entered this contest multiple times over the years) you have never won anything—even a free magazine subscription? Beware, while PCH has to follow the appropriate legal requirements, those who “pretend” to be PCH – or any other company, couldn’t care less about legalities.

So, beware of unusual calls, especially during the holiday season.

Here’s what happened to us.

Out of the blue, we got a call from a “law firm” said to reside in New York City who represented PCH. Since we had casually entered the PCH drawing, we decided to accept the call and continue the conversation.

The caller’s commentary could be believable; so, we stayed on the line with him. He said we had won the second prize of $200,000 in the PCH giveaway, and it was his job to disburse the winnings.

He verified our address and said a cashier’s check would arrive by a specified carrier at a specific agreed upon time the next day. We just needed to be present to sign the check. He also promised no one else would arrive at our door as that only happened for the grand prize.

We still listened, but we also began to check on the name of the firm to verify the call.

Next, the representative told us the amount of the award would be about half once taxes were paid. (Well, of course, the IRS would have to get a share.)

The gentleman told us that his firm was also tasked to save us taxes and by their calculations, the savings were over $56,000. He informed us of the exact dollar amount we were supposed to receive.

Then he passed us to his supervisor to complete the transaction.

Now we were more skeptical but remained on the phone. The supervisor again verified what the previous representative had told us.

While we continued listening, we looked up the name of the firm online and found nothing. Neither did we locate the area code for New York. The number seemed to come from another state altogether.

Suddenly, the call dropped. We never heard from the caller again, and no one showed at our door at the “appointed time.”

‘Tis the Season

While the call we received did not come during the height of the Holiday Season, there are still many scam callers who use this time to play on unsuspecting individuals. In fact, like those “legal representatives” who called us, scammers are so skilled that they sound convincing.

The moral here is clear. Pay attention to – even search for – red flags.

  • No matter how enticing the conversation, make sure to vet everyone, before committing to anything.
  • Never share your bank, credit card, or payment information with them unless they can prove legitimacy.
  • If you do receive a false call, follow the steps in this video presented by the Federal Trade Commission.
  • Above all, keep your awareness high especially during the Holiday Season.


DataScreening is a Certified Women’s Business Enterprise that has offered business-to-business employment and tenant screenings to human resource professionals and business owners, including staffing companies, for two decades. Among other organizations, they are members of the ASA (American Staffing Association), SHRM (Society for Human Resource Management) and the NAPBS (National Association of Professional Background Screeners).

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